Bronchitis in its acute form is relatively less serious than when the condition becomes chronic. Know what is acute bronchitis, its characteristic symptoms, and its treatment options from this write-up.
The condition bronchitis is named so because of its association with the bronchial tubes. These structures serve as the carrier of oxygen to and from the lungs. However, due to certain reasons, these tubes suffer inflammation and this cause a shut down of the tiny airways in the lungs. This condition is common in winters, and can affect both children and adults. It exits in two types; acute and chronic.
Now, when is this condition said to be an acute one? It is, when it is mild and self-limiting; meaning, the acute form of the condition clears up on its own within a span of a couple of weeks. And to add to this, it often develops following a cold or other respiratory infection in the body. But, if the symptoms of acute bronchitis do not cease or keep recurring then the condition might have progressed to become a chronic bronchitis, wherein, the damage becomes permanent thus, making the condition incurable.
Important Facts on Acute Bronchitis
The main characteristic sign of this illness is a nagging cough or a hacking cough. This is one symptom of the condition that, more often than not, lingers even long after other symptoms are gone. In most cases, the cough is a productive one; meaning, it causes a discharge of thick sputum that may be clear, white, green, or yellow-gray. Frequent coughing may be tiresome for the little ones, and may make chest and stomach muscles sore. And to worsen the cough, other symptoms that might occur are:
- Stuffy nose
- Breathing problem
- Fever, and chills
- Sore throat
- Discomfort in the chest
- Body aches and pains
In young children, parents can decipher all such symptoms, but the story is different when the condition occurs in infants. Given to their age, they are not able to verbally communicate how they are feeling, except crying and showing signs of not being at ease and more cranky than usual.
As mentioned, acute bronchitis usually follows a cold and flu episode. So this may signify that the virus that causes cold and influenza, triggers the infection that inflames the bronchial tubes. Although, a viral infection is the most common culprit to be blamed for the condition, sometimes, a bacterial infection could also come into the picture.
Coughing, sneezing, and coming in contact with contaminated articles are the modes of transmission for the virus from one person to another. Besides being a result of a viral or bacterial invasion, acute bronchitis in children could also be a repercussion of aspirating foreign matters into the lungs such as smoke, ones own vomit, strong acids, fumes, etc.
Acute bronchitis, unlike the chronic one, is not a cause for concern. In most cases, simple self-care measures at home are good enough for its treatment. Parents are advised to help their sick child drink more fluids including water. Increasing fluid intake, helps in keeping the body hydrated, thereby thinning the mucus and making it easier to cough it up. It is important that the affected child gets plenty of sleep, as it would help the body heal faster. Aches and pains can be treated with over-the-counter pain relievers, but when children are in consideration, consulting a chemist regarding the medication would be a safer option.
Coming to medications, as most cases of bronchitis is due to a viral infection, antibiotics do not come of any help. The virus would simply run its course and self-resolve within a couple of weeks. But to relieve the symptoms, cough suppressant may be used, but only if the cough is keeping the child from sleeping. Cough medication that contains suppressant inhibits coughing, thus keeping the mucus trapped in the lungs.
Acute bronchitis can be prevented by getting your child a yearly flu vaccination, and helping him/her understand the importance of practicing proper personal hygiene. Take care!